"So you're letting me go?" Maddie asked Sam, eyebrows raised. Sam unlocked the cuffs holding her.
"Sort of, Maddie. For a while I'll have someone watching to make sure you don't go wandering off, but after that, you're free to go." He waved his hand at the building. "You're lucky. The Doc keeps a couple of the larger hotels supplied with power. He has excess from the dam, I guess. Some of the rooms might have working A/C, which is what I'd look for."
Sam turned to leave the foyer of the hotel and pushed on the door to the street.
"Wait, Sam!" Maddie said. "That's it?"
Sam looked at her, his mouth set in a grim line. "It's never been about you, Maddie. I thought the Doc would want you, but I'm behind the times." He shrugged, touching his black eye as he turned back to the door. "I'm glad to be rid of you."
Maddie stood in the foyer, hands at her sides, and watched Sam disappear down the sidewalk. As soon as he was out of view she moved toward the door, stepping outside, the heat instantly warming against her bare skin.
"I'll give you one warning, Miss." The soft voice had a southern drawl and came from a speaker over the door. "I have orders that you are to stay in the hotel until I'm notified that you're free to go. Just walk back in, Miss. I got no problem shooting you, but I'd rather not."
"How long will I be locked up here, then?" Maddie asked the speaker box.
"I can see your mouth move, Miss, but I have no idea what you're sayin'. There's a button on the speaker to talk to me."
Maddie turned and walked back into the hotel biting her lower lip. She sat in one of the chairs in the lounge, her stomach rumbling. If there was a way out, she'd find it. Right now, the chair was soft, the lobby was air-conditioned and exhaustion claimed her. Maddie fell asleep.
"Hey." The hand slapped Maddie's arm and she reached forward by reflex to grab it, standing up from the chair at the same time. The hand and the woman attached to it were now five feet from her.
"Told you she was a combat sleeper." A petite, dark-haired woman grinned at her. "The clothes are combat gear," she said chuckling, "sort of."
Maddie looked at the two women. The first was taller, with brown skin and a perfect complexion, her black hair hanging down to the middle of her back. Her dark brown eyes twinkled as she looked at Maddie. She wore a blue silk blouse and a grey skirt that dropped below her knees. Her dressy, low-heeled black shoes had open toes. Maddie liked the shoes.
The one who chuckled wore a blue dress, matching the bright blue eyes that watched Maddie. Her tan shoes matched her skin, the color of a latte with cream. Her black hair was in an elaborate French braid that came to her shoulders.
They were both Transformed.
The shorter one crossed her arms and tapped her foot. "If you're hookin', this isn't the place for you, gringa. You want to be a couple blocks down the road." She pointed out the large hotel doors. "You'll hear the right place. The music goes all the time…" She laughed. Reaching in a small handbag she pulled out a package of cigarettes, lighting one with a gold lighter and blew the smoke toward Maddie. "Of course, the music is to cover of the noise of other entertainment." She motioned toward Maddie's outfit with her cigarette.
Maddie looked at herself, noting her pale legs. She ignored the cigarette smoke. "Who are you?"
The first woman nodded and spoke slowly, a slight accent coloring her speech. "You first, mija. Who are you and what are you doing in the lobby?"
"Maddie. Maddie Stone." She sat back down, crossing her legs casually. "I'm from Selah Ranch in Colorado. How I got here is a rather long story, if you want to hear it."
A knowing look passed between the women as they made themselves comfortable in seats across from Maddie. "We've heard of your Ranch," the first woman said.
Maddie said nothing, but raised an eyebrow.
The two looked at each other again. The shorter one shrugged. "We're from New Pueblo," she said. She watched Maddie react. "I see you've heard of it, though Tomás tries hard to keep it a little-known city."
"So you know Tomás?" Maddie watched the women closely.
The women exchanged a glance. "You could say that." The taller woman smiled at Maddie. "You look famished, mija. We can get some food. We can even go to the abandoned restaurant, if you wish. Sometimes we eat at the tables there or use the kitchen."
Maddie said nothing for a moment. "I am hungry," she said. She pointed at the street. "And it looks like I'm not leaving for a while."
"My name is Rosa," said the taller woman, shaking Maddie's hand.
"I'm Annie." The other woman smiled as she shook Maddie's hand. "I'm sorry I'm being so bitchy, but these shoes are killing me." She turned her ankles so Maddie could see the entire shoe. "I got them this morning. We found a new store." She shrugged. "I should have worn my other ones home, though." She chuckled. "We can find you some, too. We vamps need to stick together, don't we?"
"Has a different meaning these days, doesn't it?" Maddie said. "Jed and I call our kind 'Transformed'. We think it fits better."
"Sí, mija. You have no idea how much better that fits." Rosa laughed. "Let's go to the dining area. We can talk there."
As they stood up Annie moved toward the elevators. "I'll get some food and bring Trisha down with me." She waved the smoking cigarette at Maddie. "You don't stare at Trish when she comes down. I'm telling you…"
Rosa made a shooing motion with her hand. "I'll talk to her about Trish, Annie. We'll be at our normal table." Annie turned sharply and headed for the elevator.
Rosa nodded to her, and waved a hand toward the decorated glass doorways down the hall. "This way, Maddie Stone. I think we have much to talk about."